February 18, 2024

Flaneuring in Valencia. It’s my first time back in Europe in 7 years and as much as I like DC, living there kind of made me forget what a proper city can look like.

Building facade with a marble relief of a hunched man standing above a jug of water and an alligator.Close-up photo of a metal statue of two fish sitting on top of a public water fountain.Outdoor vegetable stand on a narrow street. A restaurant patio full of guests is in the background.A colorful mural.

The Washington Post has a history of the Wizards' plan to move to Virginia, and no one looks good: the Wizards' owner Ted Leonsis is a billionaire whose feelings got hurt for not getting a fruit basket from the city, DC mayor Muriel Bowser and her office are slow on the uptake, loosing two birds in hand (the Wizards and the Caps) for one in the bush (the Commanders), DC council is values street busker’s “freedom of expression” to play music over an amplifier in the wee hours over noise complaints of businesses and residents. Only the Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin would seem to know what he was doing, but that is only because the article left out some major deficiencies of the proposed new site and of course without his pushing of the project none of this would have happened.

And all that drama for the second-worst team in the NBA this season. Sad.

The DC Mayor is not looking good at all this week. Writing about the crime in DC, I may have hinted, several times, that it’s the District Council’s bad lawmaking which led to the great crime wave of 2023. Well, a pseudononymous but (a bit too) well-informed Substack writer has recently outlined why that just isn’t so: most of the responsibility falls on the executive branch, that is to say the Mayor and her office. Ineffective council members are but convenient scape goats. Go figure.

February 17, 2024

📺 Silo, Season 1 is the first show I finished watching on AVP and all I could think about after the last episode was how very appropriate that Apple would be the one producing it — I’ll write no more lest I spoil it. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Fallout 3.

February 16, 2024

Finished reading: I and Thou by Martin Buber 📚 and there is a message there, hidden under miles-deep layers of impenetrable German that no translator can bypass. Whether it is any more complicated than “don’t treat people like things” — I couldn’t say.

To Buber’s credit, he himself said that the book was untranslatable. Without knowing what the original was like, I tend to agree.

There is at least one good reason to use AVP in public; alas, even I am too self-conscious to do it

I am attending a medical conference in Valencia, Spain this week — more thoughts on being back in Europe after 7 years coming up — and all I could think about while sitting in the auditorium, looking at slides and listening to the speakers was that these kinds of events would be the perfect use case for AVP.

The congress center in Valencia is top-notch, with comfortable seats and plenty of leg room. Even so, laptops are unwieldy, especially if you need to balance one while holding a coffee cup in one hand and a phone for taking photos of the slides in the other. This is even harder when you are crammed against the seat in front of you, which is the more common situation for large conferences. And if you use the laptop for anything other than touch typing — say, pulling up a paper that was just mentioned while it was still fresh in your memory — you will have to be focused on the screen and nine times out of ten an important slide will pass you by without your noticing or, even worse, noticing and pulling out the phone quickly only for the slide to change just as you were about to snap a photo.

So imagine if there was a device that could let you take photos, write notes, and do some web browsing all while still paying attention to what matters, the talk itself. If a friend and colleague was the one on the stage you could even take an immersive video. And before you say that the virtual keyboard is useless, Apple’s Magic Keyboard is lighter than an abstract book, more durable than a laptop if and when dropped, and works beautifully with AVP.

If I were one of 30,000 attendees in a large conference, say ASCO or ASH annual meetings, I wouldn’t even mind trying this out. Alas, this one is on the small side, with a few hundred people sharing the same room and hallways, and the embarrassment factor was just too much for me to pull it off. But I thought about it, and I’m hoping to try it out by the end of the year, shame be damned.

February 15, 2024

I have forgotten how absolutely terrible and hostile Frankfurt airport was. Not to me personally this morning, but I cannot imagine my parents navigating the maze of terminals, bus routes, underground passages and security checkpoints. Avoid at all cost.

February 14, 2024

🍿 If you want me to see a movie, write a review like this. It’s for Perfect Days by Wim Wenders, and it made a 2-hour movie about a toilet cleaner in Tokyo look absolutely marvelous.

February 13, 2024

Matt Brichler’s view of AVP matches my own. For example:

… you may wear the headset at your desk, but you aren’t going to wander around the office with it on. And as we now know from using the headset, we know this wouldn’t even be useful since all your windows would be back at your desk so you’d be wearing the headset for no reason at all in the break room.

Even at the desk, AVP is not something I’d wear all the time. Just yesterday I was trying out the headset at work, in a tiny conference room I booked just for the purpose. A coworker came in to ask a question and I reflexively took it off — it just felt like good manners. To Apple’s credit, putting it back on is so seamless and window placement so stable that I didn’t groan internally for having to replace it.

February 12, 2024

It was a wet and cold Chinese/Lunar New Year parade yesterday, but great fun nevertheless. Happy New Year to those who celebrate!

A long yellow Chinese dragon puppet carried by 9 people down a wet street, with spectators looking from both sides.